My Expense Report, Sir and a Hibernation  - blog post image

My Expense Report, Sir and a Hibernation

My Expense Report, Sir;

Closing for Hibernation from 12/23 to 1/19

Yes, it is true. I find myself forced to close my little Taberna because the expense of opening each day far exceeds the revenue. Since the cold weather set in, our sales have dwindled to a tiny trickle and it is simply not sustainable.

We must hunker down and weather this cruel fate that's been immeasurably exacerbated by an administration that turned its back on its constituency, abdicating all responsibility and spewing lies with each exhale. As Trump and his enablers continue to sow seeds of hatred instead of unity, as their corruption reaches historic proportions, as they threaten our very democracy with their alt-right propaganda, as they hasten to repeal protections for our earth while failing to protect vulnerable citizens and businesses, we look on helplessly and watch families slip below the poverty line and small businesses collapse. I am just one of millions of small businesses in this country expected to save my own self and the employees who depend on me; my heart is with all of them right now. I feel the collective pain of hard-working people watching their savings disappear and their lovingly-constructed businesses disintegrate in this wealthy nation of ours. I lay this horrific scenario at the feet of Mitch McConnell who has staunchly and inexplicably blocked help for families and small businesses. Shame on you.

I will re-open on January 19, the eve of Inauguration Day, when we can once again have hope in our hearts. Please note my quarrel is not with Republicans in general, rather those that are choosing to aid and abet Trump in his nefarious deceit. I quite literally cannot participate any longer in his economy.

I send the hugest virtual hugs of gratitude to all of you who have so loyally brought your spirit and your dollars to Taberna de Haro since March. I literally would not be here had you not. Thank for your patience as we figured out how to run a take-out and delivery program. Thank you for tipping my staff and acknowledging their bravery in serving you. Thank you for understanding the 90 minute dining limit we had to put in place to ensure we could serve enough people each night. Thank you for being flexible with an entirely new configuration of Taberna de Haro. Thank you for understanding that the wine list slipped below 300 offerings for the first time in years, for we had to keep inventory low, and maybe didn't have your favorite bottle. Thank you for understanding that we couldn't offer a $1 oyster program during a pandemic with socially distanced cooks (one less cook on the line). Thank you for appreciating that we kept the marvelous Straight Law Bar program in place, despite the expense, because we knew you have never needed a fine cocktail more in your life.

I thank my employees from the bottom of my heart for their remarkable adaptability, their unflagging devotion to Taberna de Haro, and for their spirit. It has been so difficult to tighten our belts in the way that we have, and yet they bring smiles and a heathy attitude to work. I've never been more impressed by a group of people. AND, WE HAVE SUFFERED ZERO CASES OF COVID 19 IN TABERNA DE HARO, NEITHER THE STAFF NOR THE GUESTS. CLEARLY WE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM.

Black Friday just came and went. I bought nothing, but it occurred to me that every week in a restaurant is a Black Friday situation. Monday, you lose money. Tuesday, you probably do, too. Wednesday and Thursday you most likely break even. When Friday and Saturday's crowds arrive, you start turning a profit. FULL restaurants are profitable and half-full restaurants are not. It's that simple. Now every day is like a Nor'easter blizzard blew in.

Since March, restaurants have added to their already hefty expenses. (Did you know most independent restaurants operate at 2-3% profit margin, at best?). Here is a list of additional costs I bore and I'm sure my restaurateur colleagues will tell you the same, or worse. I'm also sure my stress-antagonized brain is forgetting several!

•Materials for the PPP projects (carpentry, equipment rentals, food for recipe-testing, decor updates, etc.) $2500

•Loss of business from March to June for which my insurance company paid ZERO: $350,00

•Printing and ink costs as all menus had to be disposable until September: $850

•PPE: $600

•Reconfiguration of entire patio and restaurant: $750

•Decoration to mask the above: $600

•Take-out containers: $2500

•Heat lamps: $1200

•Propane tanks and refills: $750

•Eversource (inexplicably, as dining rooms were completely empty until September): $15,000

As we are forced to operate at 40% capacity, all of our expenses have remained constant: payroll and payroll taxes, trash and recycling, rent, utilities, state and local meals tax, etc. Many expenses have even increased, such as wine prices thanks to Trump's irresponsible tariffs and food prices due to supply chain irregularities. I thank Open Table for the 4 free months upon renewing for 2 years and my landlord for one free month. I'm also grateful for the PPP loan, but we now see it was an 8 week bandaid for what is clearly going to be a 12 month crisis. Finally, the Town of Brookline is letting us pay our license renewal fees in April, with a 50% discount and for this I am quite thankful. The bottom line is that while earning less than ever, we are paying out more than ever. 

I have created a December Festivo Menu so that I may cook for you one last time in 2020. Also, I am hoping to bring in revenue to help withstand the uncertainty ahead. Available from 12/10 to 12/23, the menu was created with Hanukkah, Christmas, and tiny Holiday Parties in mind. Make your gatherings small, but meaningful and scrumptious. Also, get your Taberna fix while you can because our hibernation is just two weeks away. The menu goes live online tomorrow. (The regular menu will also still be available).

Order online:



BY Deborah Hansen | 0 Comment(s)
Why do those patatas bravas cost $9? - blog post image

Why do those patatas bravas cost $9?

Why DO those patatas bravas cost $9??

An inside look at the huge but little-known costs of running a small business

By Deborah Hansen

Chef-Owner-Sommelier of Taberna de Haro

That snowy Thursday had me thinking about a sultry night back in August. It was 5:15 pm, all was brilliant with late afternoon sunshine and excitement, and my patio was full. A restaurateur’s dream unfolded before my eyes - every table was seated, the song of lively chatter warbled, the familiar smell of my Spanish food wafted, my waitstaff scurried about amped and efficient. James Taylor would start performing in 2 hours just down the road at Fenway Park, and close to 100 of his fans came to Taberna de Haro first. An honor, and a profitable one at that!

It’s only profitable if all goes well. I mean Swiss-clock, synchronized-swim, Alvin Ailey dance-troop well. The man at table 104 who proclaimed his lamb chops inedible because they were too rare for his taste unwittingly nibbled at the profitability when he demanded they be removed from his bill - rather than asking for them to be cooked a bit more. The woman at table 3 who sent her gazpacho back because it “wasn’t what I expected” took another slurp out of the profits. The party of 8 that confirmed but then never showed up chomped into my bottom line as I could have served 8 more hungry guests while the table stood empty for 45 minutes. And the guest who forgot to mention he wanted his martini made with vodka rather than the standard gin, sipped again from Taberna de Haro’s profitability. But the real shark bite came at midnight when I was jolted awake by the text from my employee stating: “There’s water all over the basement floor. A lot.”

By 8:00 am my cook was on the job of clearing the water from the floor and the clog from the pipes. The power snake we keep on hand wasn’t up to the job, and I had to call in a professional plumbing service. $690 later, that sweaty and diligent plumber showed me the wad of paper towels that caused 4 inches of water to gush onto my floor, back up my sinks, and make my toilets unusable. It was nothing more than a full stack of hand towels, easily recognized, as they were not even balled up from use.

What possesses someone to put a stack of hand towels into a toilet? I must add that 2 trash cans are provided in that very bathroom. What goes through someone’s mind, right before going to hear the legendary James Taylor sing, that a toilet-clogging, pipe-jamming, floor-flooding, sink-sliming, grease trap-overflowing paper towel prank is the thing to do? Is it possible the poignant strains of “Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground…” just aren't as moving without an expensive and destructive blow to a small business’ plumbing, as a pre-game event? I will consult several psychologists for consensus and share the results next time…

So when people query, as they do, how it is that a dish of fried potatoes with hot sauce and some garlic mayonnaise costs $9, I can answer them thus: The unseen costs of running a small business are simply enormous. Let’s break it down. A case of potatoes contains about 80 potatoes. In each order of patatas bravas, this hot-sauced potatoes tapa from Spain that everyone loves, I use about one potato and a half. That yields me 53 orders of patatas bravas, and $477. Given the $35 cost of a case of potatoes, and the accompanying sauce which costs about $20 a batch, profitability should be unquestionable and my kvetching should be minimal. However, I’d like to elucidate on a few general expenses that may be surprising, if I may. You know all about fair wages, sick time, 2 weeks paid vacation, payroll taxes, the costs of high-quality ingredients and Brookline rent, but consider, if you will, these numbers (Warning, this generally happy and grateful restaurant-owner is going to gripe for a few minutes, but she promises to conclude on a cheerful, upbeat note):

  • Trash collection costs $453, monthly, and yes, we recycle;
  • Energy costs run from $2500 - $3500 monthly, and water, another $500;
  • A full liquor license in the Town of Brookline costs $5500 per year, and the right to play recorded music is another $225;
  • Insurance is about $5000 per year;
  • Comcast takes $275 per month yet does not feel obligated to keep my Internet functional 24-7, and the losses in business incurred each time the internet fails can climb into the thousands. In the olden days, temporary phone outages caused this same problem. Nowadays, the high-tech shiny system, the internet, is just as fallible as that low-tech clunky one, the telephone.
  • I pay a C.P.A to keep me I.R.S.-compliant, and a bookkeeper to keep me in the kitchen rather than tethered to my desk, $200 and $350 per month respectively;
  • Open Table, without whom I cannot survive, charges me an average $850 monthly, based on how many reservations they deliver me;
  • Having a website costs about $100 per month when you factor in updates, QuickBooks on line is another $30, and Single Platform updates my menu changes across many on-line sites for about $40 monthly.
  • Laundry service, mandatory fire-monitoring, burglar alarm monitoring, payroll services, and pest prevention services total over $800 per month;
  • A state of the art POS system costs $150 per month; repairs, another $200.
  • These expenses add up to almost $8000 per month, and remember we haven’t contemplated the biggest expenses of rent, salaries, taxes, nor goods yet!! So why do I do it, this crazy little thang called restaurateur-ing? Because I love to make food, I love to share Spain, I love to turn guests on to interesting Spanish wines, I love the heat of a kitchen and the hum of a dining room. I simply like to make people happy by feeding them well and by offering them an experience. I love making people smile by easing them into a carefree place where the food on your plate, the wine in your glass, and the people at your table are all that matter in this world for a couple of hours.

    To do this, I need to charge you $9 for the patatas bravas. I raise my glass to all the small business owners in the world whose gripe-list may well exceed mine. I raise another to my dear guests who have allowed me these challenges and joys for close to 20 years now.




    BY Deborah Hansen | 0 Comment(s)


    Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence